THE TEMPLE WAS...The history of the world is all about the rise and fall of nations. But one day, every country on this earth will cease to exist to make way for the Kingdom of the Lord. “...The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; ... it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever" Daniel 2:44.
Our lesson timeline today is God's... appointed 8th month, which began October 11 on our 2018 Gregorian calendar. It is an historical accounting of the magnificence of the nation of Israel, exemplified through the completion of Solomon's Temple on Mount Moriah. “In the eleventh year, in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He (King Solomon) had spent seven years building it.” 1 Kings 6:38.
For over 400 years, this magnificent temple was the center of Israel's national life. The people brought daily offerings there, and gathered as a nation to worship God during the 3 High Holy Days of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. But the faithful worshippers eventually became focused on the celebration of their mighty nation, enamored with their own ability to mightily worship God, and prideful of their own national might as God's chosen people.
Isaiah 9:8-10 delivers the context of Israel’s defiant stance and God's responding judgment. "The Lord sent a word against Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know—Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria—who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with hewn stones; the sycamores are cut down, but we will replace them with cedars’”
Because of their national pride and arrogance before the Almighty, God allowed the Holy Temple, and indeed the whole nation of Israel to fall to their enemies, not once, but twice. Following the second siege in 70 AD, the Roman army literally plowed Jerusalem with salt to make the ground sterile and fallow, directly fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 3:11-12. "Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.' Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.”
Yes, the physical temple of King Solomon is gone. All that remains is the foundation of the site, known today as the "Wailing Wall". But the mountain where it stood, Mount Moriah, is still the most hotly contested and desired real estate on Planet Earth.
No wonder! 4000 years ago, Genesis 22 records that God Almighty called Abraham to bring Isaac up the same hill and sacrifice him there. 1000 years later, 2 Samuel 24 records that King David purchased that very same site and built an altar to the Lord. Before his death David gathered together materials for a temple to be built there, and left instructions and encouragement to his son, Solomon, for its building. (1 Chronicles 22)
For millennia since its construction, King Solomon's Temple is thought to contain the key that links the physical world with the spiritual realm. Because the Temple was a literal treasure-trove of sacred articles that manifested God Himself, the desire to recreate or possess these heavenly artifacts has been absolutely addictive to fallen mankind. Legend/history has the secret society of the Knight Templar springing up on Mount Moriah mere centuries after the Temple's destruction, claiming to have "found" vast spiritual "secrets" there, which literally launched a "holy" war.
God Himself is taking us back in time through the power of His Word to teach us an invaluable lesson, but not one with an intrinsic "wow" factor that we can possess. Even in his legendary wisdom, Solomon was humbled by the absurdity that God would even consider dwelling on earth. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”1 Kings 8:27
"But will God really dwell on earth?" We can answer Solomon today with a resounding "Yes, indeed He will." But not in the way any mere mortal could ever totally understand or possibly predict.
"...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." John 1:14. It was in the rebuilt Second Temple, that this Word of God, Jesus the Christ, was dedicated as a babe by his parents in Luke 2:22-38. And in the same earthly Temple, during Passover, Jesus amazed the sages at the young age of 12 with his teachings, saying “I must be about my Father’s business…” Luke 2:49.
Many years later at the beginning of his three-year ministry, Jesus again caught the attention of the Jews near another Passover feast when He drove the money changers with their sacrifices from the Temple, in John 2:12-25. He announced to one and all, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.”
Clearly, Jesus is announcing across the chasm of time to anyone who will listen the true identity of the Temple of the Almighty. But we Christians today would probably reply just like the religious folks in Jesus' day. “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”
We should keep reading in verse 21 for the eternal punchline. "But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."
Several years later, Jesus expressed His great love and profound grief for His people. He also predicted the demise of the very Temple and city they all stood in and clearly stated the reason it would all happen “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Matthew 23:37-39.
When we pause now and take into account the fact that in response to the 9-11 attack on our nation, our leaders stood, not once, but twice, and repeated, word for word, Israel's vow of defiance and pride as recorded in Isaiah 9:8-10, we begin to see the undeniable similarities between the mindset of America and the historic nation of Israel.
We may be further convinced by repeating the admonition of the prophet Micah: "Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, 'Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.'"
Is it possible that just like Israel and what followed the completion of Solomon's Temple, we in America have become focused on the things of this world, basking in our "Christianity" and our own ability to advance our nation? Have we become convinced that God wants us to build a grand and glorious national "temple" here on this earth, instead of receiving the wisdom of the Holy Spirit that all this will soon pass away, and WE as Christians are the only REAL temple that is destined to survive?
The Apostle Paul sums it all up perfectly. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16.
SOLOMON'S TEMPLE WAS...